The inscription fragment on the scroll is from John 1:29, which reads, “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” These are the words Saint John the Baptist spoke to Jesus, when Jesus encountered him baptizing beyond the Jordan River. Living in the wilderness, the saint was clothed in a camel skin, and his hair was matted—just as we see him here. This image, which has been assessed as one of
When this painting first entered the National Gallery of Art, it was attributed to Lippo’s sometime collaborator and brother-in-law,
The panel presents the Baptist according to the traditional
See George Kaftal, Saints in Italian Art, vol. 1, Iconography of the Saints in Tuscan Painting (Florence, 1952), 549–550; Alexandre Masseron, Saint Jean Baptiste dans l’art (Paris, 1957).
The blessing gesture used in the Greek Church is performed with the forefinger, ring finger, and little finger extended or, as in Lippo’s panel, with thumb, forefinger, and little finger extended. See E. Fehrenbach, “Bénir (manière de),” in Dictionnaire d’archéologie chrétienne et de liturgie, ed. Fernand Cabrol and Henri Leclercq, 15 vols. (Paris, 1925), 2, pt. 1:746–758.
On the formats of Sienese polyptychs, and in particular of Simone in the period indicated, cf. Joanna Cannon, “Simone Martini, the Dominicans and the Early Sienese Polyptych,” Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institute 45 (1982): 69–93.
Musée du Louvre, Paris, no. M.I. 690, 94 × 44.2 cm; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, no. 88.3.99, 93.3 × 43.7 cm; Staatliche Museen, Gemäldegalerie, Berlin, no. 1067, 77.5 × 55.5 cm (calculating only the dimensions of the original part of this panel, which was cropped at an early date and later elongated in its upper part by a 9 cm-high modern addition). Federico Zeri reported Evelyn Sandberg-Vavalà’s manuscript opinion; Federico Zeri and Elizabeth E. Gardner, Italian Paintings: Sienese and Central Italian Schools; A Catalogue of the Collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York, 1980), 51. However, Raimond van Marle had perhaps already recognized the New York and Paris panels as probable components of the same multipart altarpiece, noting stylistic affinities between these two works and the Madonna in Berlin. Raimond van Marle, Simone Martini et les peintres de son école (Strasbourg, 1920), 108–109.
The paintings in question are: Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, no. 1943.239, 104.9 × 44.6 cm; Pinacoteca Nazionale, Siena, nos. 49 (105 × 46 cm), 48 (105 × 46 cm); cf. Helen Comstock, “The World’s Fair and Other Exhibitions,” Connoisseur 103 (1939): 275–277.
“[Lippo] fece . . . in San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno . . . la tavola a tempera che oggi è sopra l’altar maggiore, dentrovi una Nostra Donna, San Piero, San Paolo e San Giovan Batista ed altri Santi; e in questa pose Lippo il suo nome” (Lippo made in San Paolo a Ripa d’Arno the tempera painting that today stands on the high altar, in which is Our Lady, Saint Peter, Saint Paul, and Saint John the Baptist, and other saints; and Lippo put his name to this painting): Giorgio Vasari, Le vite dei più eccellenti pittori, scultori ed architettori, ed. Gaetano Milanesi, 9 vols. (Florence, 1878), 1:554–555. Klara Steinweg cautiously suggested that the two panels of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (now respectively in the Musée du Louvre, Paris, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) belonged to this polyptych. Klara Steinweg, “Beiträge zu Simone Martini und seiner Werkstatt,” Mitteilungen des Kunsthistorischen Institutes in Florenz 7 (1956): 168 n. 23.
Gertrude Coor, “Two Unknown Paintings by the Master of the Glorification of St. Thomas and Some Closely Related Works,” Pantheon 19 (1961): 131–132, 135 n. 25.
Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai, no. 1135, 52 × 28.5 cm: see Francoise Baligand, Le Musée de la Chartreuse, Douai (Paris, 1999), 18; Lindenau-Museum, Altenburg, nos. 44–45, 57, 5 × 26 cm each: see Robert Oertel, Frühe italienische Renaissance in Altenburg: Beschreibender Katalog der Gemälde des 13. bis 16. Jahrhunderts im Staatlichen Lindenau-Museum (Berlin, 1961), 75–76; Daniela Parenti, in Maestri senesi e toscani nel Lindenau-Museum di Altenburg, eds. Miklós Boskovits and Johannes Tripps (Siena, 2008),
Cristina De Benedictis, “A proposito di un libro su Buffalmacco,” Antichità viva 13, no. 2 (1974): 7–8.
The busts in question are here considered works produced by